‘We cannot repeat the mistakes of the past, where the Great Recession, the September 11 attacks and the post-90s recovery exacerbated systemic inequalities instead of addressing them. And it may not be the people who benefit the most from the status quo to set a new direction to the people.’
When the pandemic first started, one of the most noticeable things was the lines. But the lines that were there can vary greatly depending on one’s zip code.
Long queues for COVID-19 test in some parts of the city; Often neighborhoods with access to more resources. But some neighborhoods—mostly low-income, mostly black and brown, and largely immigrant communities—see lines for food and emergency aid that lasted for months, and experienced low testing rates, even though they were disproportionately affected by the pandemic. were suffering from.
The lines, and what they were for, became one of the most noticeable signs of racial inequality in New York City. As Yahshanaiah Hill, vice president of Workforce Opportunity Investments at the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation (UMEZ), said, “The racial wealth gap is long-standing – the pandemic has made it easier for some to see its damaging reality. “
As we emerge from this pandemic, we know we need to grow our economy and bring opportunity back to New York. But it may not be development that helps those who need it least while leaving those who have suffered the most. We cannot repeat the mistakes of the past, where the Great Recession, the September 11 attacks and the post-90s recovery exacerbated systemic inequalities instead of addressing them. And the people setting a new direction may not be the people who benefit most from the status quo.
We need to engage directly with New Yorkers working on the ground with vulnerable communities in organizations like UMEZ, which is focused on creating economic opportunities for their ultra-local community. We need new voices who are invested in building their lives and communities through a just and shared reform. We need people who represent the full diversity of the city – particularly within communities that have been systematically excluded from the conversation of decision-making. Inclusiveness and equality should be more than a slogan. This vision should be supported by a new process with better results.
That’s why the New York City Employment and Training Coalition (NYCETC), the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANHD) and the Regional Plan Association (RPA) have joint resources. NYC Inclusive Development Initiative (IGI). IGI’s 18-member Steering Committee, which includes Hill, is bringing together New Yorkers with a variety of educational, professional and vibrant experiences that can create a real change agenda for the city’s next elected officials.
Unfortunately, it is already clear that this recovery is no different, at least not yet. The essential workers running our city are not getting income, job security or career opportunities. Instead, they are facing stalled wages, food insecurity and an impending eviction crisis. The wealthiest Americans have become richer, while the situation of millions has become even more precarious. Small businesses struggled to stay open and many have already closed their doors. And the rise in hate crimes against the AAPI community and the epidemic of police violence against Black and Brown New Yorkers highlight the continuing threats, exclusion and intolerance in our city.
Our disparities become even more apparent when New Yorkers are asked about their outlook on the region and their desire to live. recently RPA/Global Strategy Group Survey Tracking and optimism levels in the New York metropolitan area showed that men scored 65 out of 100 while women scored just 51 out of 100.
The numbers show an even greater difference in race: 80 percent of black respondents said they would like to move out of their community, compared to 43 percent of white respondents. Seventy-one percent of white respondents said they would encourage someone to move to New York City, compared to only 51 percent of people of color and 39 percent of black respondents. Black and Latinx New Yorkers are twice as likely to lose a family member to COVID. Overall, women, blacks, Latinx and low-income respondents were less optimistic and less satisfied, while white people remained mostly positive about the city’s future.
Bridging this gap is not just a moral question. IGI’s Steering Committee knows what every New Yorker should recognize now: New York cannot and will not grow unless we seek to heal the marginalized, not first, but inclusive, equitable. do not provide opportunities. We must go beyond pretense and aspirations and make real change that advances racial and economic justice and opportunity. The time has come for us to focus on the tireless efforts and contributions of our everyday residents and make real changes that truly meet their needs and lead to this unprecedented moment in our lives.
Jose Ortiz, Jr. is the CEO of the Employment and Training Coalition of New York City. Barika X Williams is the Executive Director at the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development. Tom Wright is the President and CEO of the Regional Planning Association.
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